Letter to Editor: Show the darker side of exams

Letter to Editor: Show the darker side of exams

I recall that many years ago at the start of a new school year certain students who had failed their previous year’s Intercert French exams used to call out vigorously the phrase “F for French” so as to annoy the French teacher who had previously taught them. 

But this rather sadder and somewhat darker side of school exams is, I believe, practically never at all highlighted or reported on our Irish media.

Every year when it comes to showing on TV students getting their exam results in the month of August it’s like we are living in North Korea or some such similar country. 

This is because only smiling, excited and successful students getting good grades in their exams are shown. 

The less successful students are nowhere to be seen.

But surely it should the real aim and proper duty of the media to somehow or other also try to highlight as sensitively as possible the stories of those students who fail their important exams.

The media must try as best it can with great care to shine its light on the thoughts and feelings of young people who fall down at the first main hurdles in their lives.

Such young people’s sense of failure and loneliness on the brink of their adult lives must not be left unaddressed and ignored. 

If their hidden first experience of failure can be learnt about without any intrusion on their privacy then there could well be a better chance for the Government and also society to not let future young students to also fail in the years to come.

One way to find the hidden truth of students failing exams might be to have their faces blurred when they are interviewed on TV so their identities could be protected. 

It is said that if anyone repeats the same action over and over again and then expects a different result then this is a form of madness. 

Thus to also always only show the beaming smiles of successful students on TV each year is to constantly neglect another newer group of left-aside students who also attempt to those same exams but dont succeed. 

These such students will quite likely be obliged to only have the lesser well paid jobs that can be got in Ireland for the rest of their lives.

Sean O’Brien

Kilrush

Co Clare

This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 20 August 2019.

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